This image effects me in a deep way…
There is a tightening in my jaw.
A tension in my neck.
A dull, but present ache in my chest.
Once I allowed the sadness to come and wash over me, I sat with my truth.
The truth of what I saw in this picture.
A version of my punisher.
The part of me that does not like me.
The part of me who spent years telling me that I would be worthy and valuable if – and only if – I achieved perfection.
The part of me who demanded I adjust, assimilate, and accommodate those around me in order to be worthy of their attention.
The part of me who cracked her whip and shouted, “PERFORM!”
I was on a call with my coach recently when I was struck with an analogy that created a nauseous feeling in my stomach.
I spent much of my life as a circus animal.
Night after night. Show after show. Doing tricks for applause. Wearing whatever mask or costume you wanted. Dancing, standing on my back legs, jumping through rings of fire, or just sitting pretty -poised on a stool waiting for my next instruction.
Working hard. Working SO hard.
My ferocious work ethic fueled by the hope that I’d get rewarded for making the ringmaster happy.
And if I didn’t?
Back to my cage. Alone. To think about what I did. What I didn’t do.
And how I could do more, be more, try harder.
I wasn’t just seeking external validation. I was inspecting constantly. And in my inspection, I was internally invalidating myself, my choices, my physical appearance, my performance…
“You are wrong. You are bad. You are unworthy. You disgust me. You are fat. You are ugly. Fix this. Fix that. Fix everything. Do more, more, more, MORE! You are not and never will be enough.”
“Okay” I’d say.
Next time. I will work harder.
And I did.
One of the most empowering things I ever did, was taking responsibility for my personal healing and happiness.
But, the most empowering thing I have done to date, was take full ownership of my personal abuse as the abuser.
I was the punisher.
That was my hand striking the blows.
Those were my words coming out of my mouth.
Was this a learned behavior?
But the source of the learning was no longer doing the abuse.
And keeping myself tethered; a hostage to the teachings was MY doing.
And it was time to own up to that.
Not to abuse myself further.
Not to put one more thing on the list of things to feel bad about.
Embedded in my personal responsibility was my freedom… my healing.
If I was the one doing it, I was the one who could stop.
You see, for many years I fully believed I deserved to be punished.
But what I know is…
When you’re ready to stop
When you come to the place where you believe you have suffered enough
You will stop fighting against yourself; fighting against others
You will begin to fight FOR her.
She doesn’t need protection if you’re not beating her up.
And in that journey, you will heal the relationship with yourself.
So many of these patterns have been embedded for years.
Please give yourself grace as you travel along the path.
Be patient with yourself as you travel your personal healing journey.
But please keep going.
I promise, you are the one you’re waiting for.